"To the one who knocks, the door will be opened." - Matthew 7:8
We are viators on a pilgrimage from one house of God to another, seeking mercy for all. In his book, The Name of God is Mercy, Pope Francis wrote: "God forgives not with a decree but a caress." He also said, "The Church...does not wait for the wounded to knock on her doors, she looks for them on the streets." In this journey of faith, from the shuttered Church of Our Lady of Peace to the Holy Doors of the Shrine of the Most Precious Blood, we seek the spiritual medicine of mercy for ourselves that we might give to others. We must. We have been on the street for seven months.
"We met at Our Lady of Peace at 8:15 a.m. and by 8:30 a.m., we were on our way. Yes, each of the ladies had their hair done for the occasion. All were in their Sunday clothes, not bundled as they are for our services on the street. Each was solemn, each was part of something that was indeed wonderful. The father and daughter team was excited and ready for the experience." - Jessica Bede, Eucharistic Minister and OLP Rosary Captain
"Celebrating the Jubilee of Mercy means learning how to not remain prisoners of the past. It means believing things can be different." - Pope Francis
"It was very important that we can still rejoice as Our Lady of Peace. It was good to begin the day together to follow the pilgrimage, just as we pray together to follow God's plan for our situation." - Gloria Casugbo, Eucharistic Minister and OLP Rosary Leader
"The driver let us out in front of the main door to the Basilica of Old St. Patrick's Cathedral, and from there we knew we were at home." - Jessica Bede
"The church is beautiful, peaceful and small - made to order for our group. There were 53 people at the 9:15 a.m. Mass; 12 were from Our Lady of Peace. We wore our sashes and bracelets, and people smiled at us as if we were a tour group, reveling in the serene environs of this warm and inviting site." - Jessica Bede
"Then it began to sink in - with the Lord's Prayer. As if we were home, we reached for each others' hands. Not just in prayer, but in fellowship. As if in a death grip, we held on to each other, but in an absolutely beautiful way. For this is the group that prays outside together, and we know each other, and we know each others' trials, doubts, fears, and faith. It was a spirit filled moment, and it was sad to let go." - Jessica Bede
"Then with the exchange of peace, we walked around to each other, and anyone within reach, to offer a handshake, an embrace, a greeting. We then prepared to receive the Eucharist- ages 15 to 80, everyone had the same expression as we processed up the main aisle." - Jessica Bede
"Prior to the closing prayer and blessing, the pastor, Monsignor Sakano, welcomed the people from Our Lady of Peace to the Church. He asked where we were from, and we said Manhattan. After Mass, he entertained us and our pilgrimage outside the church, and said that he had spent a year in the rectory at Our Lady of Peace with Monsignor Holland. He did not seem consumed with the same fear of us as others, and it was truly a good feeling." - Jessica Bede
"We then processed to the Shrine of Most Precious Blood and went through the Doors of Mercy with our Sashes in place. We spread about in smaller groups in yet another small church to visit the different parts of the shrine." - Jessica Bede
The Spiritual Acts of Mercy include counseling the doubtful, discovering more about our faith, journeying together to a deeper understanding of our faith, as well as reconciliation. We are able to experience many of the acts of mercy during our pilgrimage.
"We are ordinary people caring and praying for each other and our church. Our moments of mercy on the streets of New York to unite our parish and neighborhood are just a drop in the bucket of what could be accomplished if Our Lady of Peace is reopened." - Tami Ellen McLaughlin, Lector, Special Events Coodinator and OLP Rosary Leader
Entering the Holy Doors of the Shrine of the Most Precious Blood, every one is given a prayer card. One side has the photo of the entrance to the church. The other side has the prayer Pope Francis wrote especially for the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Pope Francis' Prayer for the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy
Lord Jesus Christ, you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father, and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him. Show us your face and we will be saved. Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money; the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things; made Peter weep after his betrayal, and assured Paradise to the repentant thief. Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us, the words that you spoke to the Samaritan woman: "If you knew the gift of God!"
You are the visible face of the invisible Father, of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy: let the Church be your visible face in the world, its Lord risen and glorified. You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in weakness in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error: let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God.
Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with its anointing, so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace from the Lord, and your Church, with renewed enthusiasm, may bring good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed, and restore sight to the blind.
We ask this through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy, you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen
"May the sweetness of her countenance watch over us in this Holy Year." - Pope Francis
"We spent about 45 minutes there combining touring and praying. There was no room for anger. Sadness, and a wash of hope prevailed at the Lourdes Shrine with running water. There were only two other people in the church, so we really were able to cover it all. But we were together in yet another small house of prayer, where we did not feel threatened nor did we feel as if we were be solicited." - Jessica Bede
The Nativity of Mercy: Mercy from generation to generation. "We were included in those prophetic words of the Virgin Mary," wrote Pope Francis.
"With sashes in place, we proceeded to breakfast. There were two tables for 6 available at Ferrara Bakery, and there one more person joined us to complete the group. We stayed a good while, each recalling how much this meant to them, each one thanking the others. Shane and Meagan bought us coffee and cake - in a sweet way, providing the secular indulgence to our very spiritual day." - Jessica Bede
"Merciful like the Father" is the motto of the Jubilee Year. We don't just think of reconciliation and penance. We think of love and tenderness as we watch Rene and his 15-year old daughter. It brings to mind a quotation by Bishop Albino Luciani, that Pope Francis used in his book:
"He waits. Always. And it is never too late. That's what he's like, that's how he is....he's a father. A father waiting at the doorway."
[Photos contributed by TE McLaughlin, Jessica Bede, Melisande Valdes, Rene Diaz]